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Parents across Devon and Cornwall asked to join the fight against Child Sexual Exploitation

Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner is helping to promote parent's awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

To coincide with Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day on 18 March, PCC Alison Hernandez is teaming up with local safeguarding boards, Devon and Cornwall Police, local authorities and charities to ensure parents are aware of what signs to look out for in case their child is at risk of being sexually exploited.

A new web page to signpost parents to support services which can be found at

Sexual exploitation is a type of child abuse. It puts a young person at huge risk of damage to their physical, emotional and psychological health.

CSE involves young people and children being 'groomed' and sexually exploited.  It can take many forms, such as through an apparently 'consensual' relationship with an older person or a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, cigarettes or alcohol.

Many young people who are being exploited do not realise they are at risk and will not ask for help. Some may see themselves as willing participants in such abuse, not realising that what is happening to them is illegal.

There are warning signs that may indicate something is wrong. If you know what you're looking for, you can take steps to help them.

Alison Hernandez, Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "One of the priorities in my Police and Crime Plan is protecting the vulnerable and those at risk of abuse. We need to do all we can to protect children from CSE.”

"I want children to know that we care about what they have gone through. They should know where to go for help and what support is there for them. There are various agencies, both local and national, that can help, including police, Barnardo’s, the NSPCC and local safeguarding boards.”

A mother of a young girl from the Devon and Cornwall area who was targeted on social media said: “We realised my daughter was being exploited by a young male, who was not a good role model in her life.

“I was very shocked and did not know how I felt, however, I felt numb and I was so upset I could not protect my daughter in a way that a mother should.

“More should be talked about the dangers of social media and children need to know about what bad things can happen to them. They just see it as if they are making new friends but new friends are not always who they say they are.

Signs to look out for:

  • Has the young person received unexplained gifts or money?
  • Do they use their mobile phone excessively and/or secretively?
  • Do they have significantly older friends?
  • Have they been picked up from home or school by someone you don't know?
  • Are they associating with other young people who are already known to be vulnerable or involved in exploitation?
  • Have they started playing truant from school or regularly going missing from home?
  • Have they suffered from a sexually-transmitted infection?
  • Are they self-harming?
  • Has their appearance changed?

You can visit the new web page here:

More information and resources for parents

National resources:

CEOP - CEOP helps to keep children and young people safe online. CEOP helps thousands of children and young people every year who have been in a similar situation to you.

Pace – Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation - Pace takes referrals directly from parents. If you are worried about child sexual exploitation happening to your son or daughter, get in touch. Someone from their parent support team will be in touch to discuss the help and information Pace could offer. or call 0113 240 5226

NWG – NWG’s principal objective is to offer support and advice to those working with children and young people under eighteen who are affected by abuse through sexual exploitation. or call 01332 585371.

NSPCCNational Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Any adult worried about a child can contact our trained helpline practitioners for 24/7 help, advice and support. Email or call 0808 800 5000. For more information about child sexual exploitation visit

Barnardo’s – Barnardo’s is the largest provider of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) support in the UK, with specialist services in over 40 locations

 International Missing Persons Helpline - call 116000 for confidential help and advice

Parents Protect – Support group for parents -

 Local services:

  • Devon and Cornwall Police -
  • Children’s Services - If you would prefer not to contact police you can contact Children’s Services in your area:

Important: In an emergency call 999.

Local Safeguarding Children Boards:


Cornwall and Isles of Scilly: